Unit 2 Bargaining Bulletin #4 (December 22, 2021)

Brad WalchukUncategorized

It has been a few long months of negotiation and research for our CUPE 3906 Unit 2 Bargaining Committee. As you have likely heard through our ongoing phone calls and personal emails, we left the table in August with a request for more detailed information from the Employer to draft proposals that comply with what is commonly referred to as “Bill 124”.

Bill 124 refers to the Ontario Conservative Party Government’s restriction to increases to wages and other Collective Agreement entitlements to a maximum of 1% per year over a 3-year “moderation period”. Unit 2 has already been through one year of these restrictions, and we have two years remaining under the legislation (i.e., until September 2023). The legislation also restricts unions’ abilities to “make up” for the three years of restrictions in the year following the restriction period. (It is unclear what exactly is prohibited under this portion of the legislation.) This legislation makes negotiating meaningful improvements in the first two years of the Collective Agreement extremely difficult.

The Bargaining Team has spent weeks trying to maximize the gains in years 1 and 2 in creative ways, and offering proposals in year 3 that take into account the consequences of inflation and underfunding in several benefits. Items such as improvements to job security cost the employer nothing, but they continue to say ‘no’ and seem content with the current level of precarious work.

Even our proposals that deal with equity between Sessional Faculty and other employees on campus—such as recognition for our members who have been teaching for five, ten, and even thirty years or more—have not
been adopted by the Employer. We met with the Employer again on December 6th and 9th, 2021, with a modified package of proposals to attempt to meet the employer’s proposals partway, but unfortunately the Parties were not close in key priority areas such as Job Security, Wages, and Retirement Security.

The employer continues to say ‘no’ to improvements to job security, ‘no’ to meaningful retirement security, and insists on keeping wage increases to a minimal level that falls well below inflation. We are continuing to negotiate, but we are getting to the end of what can be negotiated without arriving at an impasse. In the event that the Parties reach an impasse, the Bargaining Team may request a Strike Vote from Members.

A strong Strike Vote gives the Bargaining Team the option of calling a Strike in the event that talks break down entirely at the table. It does not automatically lead to a strike, but demonstrates that the Union and its members are serious about their proposals in the process of Conciliation (or else the Employer “holds all of the cards”). Conciliation is a process involving an authorized third-party Conciliation Officer who attempts to guide the Parties to an agreement. If an agreement is not achieved during Conciliation, either Party can file a “No Board Report”, which is a document filed with the Government that starts a 17-day countdown to a legal strike by the Union or a lockout by the Employer.

The Bargaining Team anticipates more bargaining dates in the Winter Term and we are asking for your continued support. It is necessary to achieve an improved Collective Agreement that you deserve. Without your demonstration of support, it is unlikely that we will be able to negotiate anything other than a “roll-over” agreement for the next few years. We think you deserve more in wages, benefits, resources, and retirement planning. We think that you deserve to be treated in a way that is more equitable with other instructional staff on campus. The Employer will need to hear your voices united in this demand in the coming weeks.

 

A PDF version can be found here

Bargaining Bulletin #5

cupe3906vpUncategorized

It has been a few long months of negotiation and research for our CUPE 3906 Unit 2 Bargaining Committee.

As you have likely heard through our ongoing phone calls and personal emails, we left the table in August with a request for more detailed information from the Employer to draft proposals that comply with what is commonly referred to as “Bill 124”.

Bill 124 refers to the Ontario Conservative Party Government’s restriction to increases to wages and other Collective Agreement entitlements to a maximum of 1% per year over a 3-year “moderation period”. Unit 2 has already been through one year of these restrictions, and we have two years remaining under the legislation (i.e., until September 2023). The legislation also restricts unions’ abilities to “make up” for the three years of restrictions in the year following the restriction period. (It is unclear what exactly is prohibited under this portion of the legislation.) This legislation makes negotiating meaningful improvements in the first two years of the Collective Agreement extremely difficult.

The Bargaining Team has spent weeks trying to maximize the gains in years 1 and 2 in creative ways, and offering proposals in year 3 that take into account the consequences of inflation and underfunding in several benefits. Items such as improvements to job security cost the employer nothing, but they continue to say ‘no’ and seem content with the current level of precarious work. Even our proposals that deal with equity between Sessional Faculty and other employees on campus—such as recognition for our members who have been teaching for five, ten, and even thirty years or more—have not been adopted by the Employer.

We met with the Employer again on December 6th and 9th, 2021, with a modified package of proposals to attempt to meet the employer’s proposals partway, but unfortunately the Parties were not close in key priority areas such as Job Security, Wages, and Retirement Security. The employer continues to say ‘no’ to improvements to job security, ‘no’ to meaningful retirement security, and insists on keeping wage increases to a minimal level that falls well below inflation. We are continuing to negotiate, but we are getting to the end of what can be negotiated without arriving at an impasse.

In the event that the Parties reach an impasse, the Bargaining Team may request a Strike Vote from Members. A strong Strike Vote gives the Bargaining Team the option of calling a Strike in the event that talks break down entirely at the table. It does not automatically lead to a strike, but demonstrates that the Union and its members are serious about their proposals in the process of Conciliation (or else the Employer “holds all of the cards”). Conciliation is a process involving an authorized third-party Conciliation Officer who attempts to guide the Parties to an agreement. If an agreement is not achieved during Conciliation, either Party can file a “No Board Report”, which is a document filed with the Government that starts a 17-day countdown to a legal strike by the Union or a lockout by the Employer.

The Bargaining Team anticipates more bargaining dates in the Winter Term and we are asking for your continued support. It is necessary to achieve an improved Collective Agreement that you deserve. Without your demonstration of support, it is unlikely that we will be able to negotiate anything other than a “roll-over” agreement for the next few years. We think you deserve more in wages, benefits, resources, and retirement planning. We think that you deserve to be treated in a way that is more equitable with other instructional staff on campus. The Employer will need to hear your voices united in this demand in the coming weeks.

 

A PDF version of this bulletin can be downloaded by clicking here.

Bargaining Update- September 2021

Brad WalchukUncategorized

As you likely know, the Employer was unwilling to agree to your most important priorities over the two weeks that the parties bargained in August.

The membership has identified these 6 priorities is key gains to be advanced in the new agreement:

  • Respect, Equity, and Inclusion;
  • Compensation;
  • Job Security;
  • Health and Wellbeing;
  • Workload;
  • Professional Support and Training.

We currently do not have any additional dates scheduled with the Employer. Your bargaining team is determining next steps of how to best proceed.

CUPE Sessional Faculty: Collective Bargaining Update #3

Brad WalchukUncategorized

CUPE 3906’s Unit 2 Bargaining Team met again with our counterparts from the McMaster University Administration for three days of negotiations between August 23rd and August 27th, 2021.

Progress at the table was slow, but the Parties arrived at some agreement in administrative and procedural areas such as Information, the Grievance Procedure, and Equal Pay. Unfortunately, the Employer continued to refuse to provide meaningful gains to your priority areas, including Job SecurityPensions, and Professional Supports.

CUPE 3906’s team presented our first full monetary pass and was working on a counter to the Employer’s response.  The parties left the table on Friday evening (August 27th), with plans to continue negotiations, although no dates have been set.

Although the Employer has not taken an aggressive stance with outright concessions this round, they do not seem to be very receptive to improvements in member priority areas, and see the existing agreement as acceptable for the next three years.  We disagree. The Employer is also firm on fulfilling its legal obligations to restrict wages and compensation for the next two years under the Conservative’s infamous Bill 124.  CUPE is one of several Unions signed on to a constitutional challenge of the legislation, which limits the rights of Public Sector workers to bargain in a free and collective manner.  As CUPE Ontario President, Fred Hahn, has pointed out, the legislation makes it impossible for front-line Public Sector workers to keep up with inflation, which is currently over 3%.

“It’s very frustrating to be forced to work within the imposed legislative restrictions while facing the Employer’s seeming lack of interest to make improvements even to non-monetary language that would make the lives of some of its most precarious employees less stressful,” says Mary Ellen Campbell, CUPE 3906 staff.  “Negotiations are the only time when we can make secure gains for our members that are guaranteed under the Collective Agreement, and we can’t afford to wait another three years to make improvements.”

“Some of our proposals, including a targeted pension benefit, actually require very little effort or cost on the part of the Employer, but offer a world of difference to our members, some of whom have been working for McMaster University for 20 or even 30 years or more with nothing to show for retirement,” says Sharoni Mitra, CUPE 3906 President.  “McMaster likes to claim that it treats its employees equally, but even this ask, which is much less than what most of our counterparts across the table enjoy, seems to have no traction with them.”

CUPE 3906’s team will solicit dates to continue negotiations with the Employer into the fall term.  We will continue to update members on our progress, and encourage you, the members, to show your support for your elected bargaining team by joining our bargaining support committee, following our progress and activities on email and social media, and keeping in touch with comments and questions by emailing mobilizer@cupe3906.org.  It’s your contract!

Our next Bargaining Support Committee Meeting will be scheduled soon- an email with the date/time will follow.

Sessional Faculty, Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty, and MELD Sessional Faculty working at McMaster University comprise CUPE 3906’s Unit 2. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.

A PDF version of this update can be found here..

Bargaining Bulletin #2

Brad WalchukUncategorized

HAMILTON, ON — August 19, 2021

CUPE 3906’s Unit 2 Bargaining Team met with their counterparts from the McMaster University Administration on three days this past week to begin this year’s round of bargaining.

The Union’s team presented a package that reflects the bargaining priorities that members approved earlier this summer. These priorities include: 1) Respect, Equity, and Inclusion; 2) Compensation; 3) Job Security; 4) Health and Wellbeing; 5) Workload; and 6) Professional Supports and Paid Training.

The Union’s package reflects and addresses the needs identified by the membership in survey taken earlier this year.  The existence of Bill 124, a piece of legislation passed by the Ford government that restricts wages and compensation to a maximum of 1% will present a challenge to the bargaining team, though at this point the Employer is not even offering union members a 1% total increase to compensation.

A number of unions, including CUPE Ontario, are challenging the legislation, which we believe is a violation of workers’ collective rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Over the first three days of bargaining, the parties were able to secure agreement on some smaller changes that will provide some benefit to the members, including improvements in the No Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment article, as well as in the Health and Safety article.

McMaster did not address many additional proposals, including those reflecting the membership’s main priorities, in a meaningful way. “It was frustrating, to say the least,” explained Sharoni Mitra, the president of CUPE 3906, adding that “McMaster seems content with the status quo, which sees precarious workers struggling for job security and left without many of the benefits and entitlements – such as access to a workplace pension – that virtually all of the members of the Employer’s bargaining team enjoy.”

“We hope that the Employer will find a way to meet us on our proposals,” continued Mitra. “We expect the Employer to take seriously our proposals to improve both monetary and non-monetary language in the Collective Agreement. This round of bargaining is a chance for the Employer to demonstrate its concern and respect for its highly precarious workers.”

Sessional Faculty work is notoriously precarious, with instructors often working at two or more postsecondary institutions to make ends meet. This precarity, along with the Employer’s reliance on legislation that we believe is unconstitutional to supress wages and deny well-deserved gains, will be a consistent challenge the Union will confront at the bargaining table.

“Our proposals reflect the pivotal work performed by Sessionals,” said chief negotiator Brad Walchuk. “There’s something fundamentally wrong with an institution that refuses to improve job security and provide basic entitlements for a group of highly-educated workers. We refuse to take ‘that’s not something we’re prepare to agree to’ from the Employer as its default answer to any proposal that will provide a meaningful gain”

The next bargaining dates with the Employer are scheduled for August 23rd, 25th, and 27th. For more information on how you can help with the bargaining support team, email bargainingsupport@cupe3906.org

Sessional Faculty, Hourly Rated Sessional Music Faculty, and MELD Sessional Faculty working at McMaster University comprise CUPE 3906’s Unit 2. The current collective agreement expires on August 31.

A PDF copy is available by clicking here.

Bargaining Testimonial- Job Security

Brad WalchukUncategorized

“Job security means, to me, that I don’t have to re-apply for my job every four months.  More importantly, it means I have some certainty in knowing that I will have a job to return to each year.  It means not having to guess if there will be courses to teach and if the departments I’ve worked in will hire me back or not.” -Dr. Tim Fowler, Faculty of Social Sciences and DeGroote School of Business

Bargaining Begins- August 9th

Brad WalchukUncategorized

Your Union has schedule six bargaining dates with the Employer- August 9, 11, 13, 23, 25, and 27. We’ll be tabling our first package on the 9th and pushing hard to secure your key priorities: 1) Respect, Equity, and Inclusion; 2) Compensation; 3) Job Security; 4) Health and Wellbeing; 5) Workload; and 6) Professional Support and Training.

Find out more about these priorities here: https://bettermac.ca/key-issues-unit2/

Sessional Testimonials: Make your voice heard!

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The Bargaining Support Committee is asking sessional instructors to share their stories with us. The brief testimonials will be shared on social media in order to build awareness and solidarity as we head into bargaining in August.

If you want your voice heard, just submit a 2 to 3 sentence answer to the question: What does _______ mean to you? (Fill in the blank with ANY of the six bargaining prioritiesrespect, equity, and inclusion; compensation; job security; health and wellbeing; workload; and professional supports and paid training.)

Send your testimonials to Rob at bargainingsupport@cupe3906.org

We’d love for you to draw on your own personal experience as a sessional instructor.

We want people to see that these bargaining priorities are not just abstract concepts, but that they make a real, tangible impact on the lives of our members.

Bargaining Priorities Ratified

Brad WalchukUncategorized

The results are in!  Unit 2 members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying the bargaining priorities presented by your elected Unit 2 Bargaining Team.  These priorities will guide our negotiations with the McMaster University Administration, which begin this summer for a new Collective Agreement.  The Collective Agreement is the contract that determines your workplace rights (such as wages, benefits, job security, workload, health and safety and more) as a Sessional Faculty at McMaster University. The existing Collective Agreement expires on August 31st, 2021.

The priorities are represented by six categories:

  • Respect, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Compensation
  • Job Security
  • Health and Wellbeing
  • Workload
  • Professional Supports and Paid Training

For more information on what these categories entail, please visit https://cupe3906.org/unit-2-proposed-bargaining-priorities-2020/

We are still awaiting conformation of our first contract negotiation session with the Employer, but we expect that to be at some point in August.  Your Bargaining Team is currently drafting language to propose to the Employer at these negotiation sessions.

Due to ongoing health and safety measures required as a response to COVID-19, our negotiation sessions will be conducted online.  Neither the Union nor the Employer prefers online negotiations, but in the interests of moving forward with in a timely manner, this is how we must proceed.

Your Bargaining Team will keep you up-to-date on how negotiations are progressing. Please visit www.bettermac.ca to keep up to date with our negotiations. We need you to stay informed and be involved for the benefit of all Sessional Faculty at McMaster. Please contact mobilizer@cupe3906.org to find ways to get involved and look out for emails regarding Bargaining Support Team meetings.

Whether you are pro-union, anti-union, or indifferent, the outcome of these contract negotiations will impact your job. The only way to stop McMaster rolling back previous gains and getting some wins of our own is to make sure they feel the pressure to deliver a fair contract from the whole membership.